Sunday, 12/01/2250 – By Rebecca Green.
Adrian was shelving the current spotlight books, a special shelf situated at the very front of the library to catch the students’ attention and present the most recent award winning novels. He’d curated each one with care, hoping perhaps uselessly that he might convert one of these students that seemed more interested in the latest gossip. Some of them were good, always coming in, and maybe he put a lot of emphasis on the importance of reading, but he was the librarian for a reason. It was good for kids, however much they pretended to loathe it.
Or, rather, he was distracting himself very purposely. Only two days had passed since the full moon and waking up the day before to find himself naked in a cold dungeon with Rhea had been less than pleasant. Nevermind… Adrian made himself blush just thinking about what had happened. Doing… that, with Rhea, wolf or not, was nothing short of baffling. He’d spent the better part of the day and the day before picking up their mess, this particular shelf having been knocked down during their… activities.
As such, he gave quite the start when the great doors of the library opened. Glancing over only to be mortified to see a familiar short red haired woman. If that wasn’t enough, behind her trailed two more people that she was animatedly speaking to. One of the pair was nearly identical, except aged years beyond Rhea and perhaps an inch taller than the four foot nine inch woman. Beside the older woman was a man, a good foot taller than the women, but sporting the same bright red hair and blue eyes.
“Adrian!” Rhea called pleasantly, her face brightening at the sight of him and heading toward him, looking back at her family. “This is the man I’ve told you about.”
The taller of the trio coughed into his hands, “Yeah you have.”
Rhea elbowed him in the gut, looking back up toward Adrian with the faintest hint of color in her cheeks. “Adrian, this is my mother, Deirdre, and my brother, Jericho.”
“I uh- Hello-” Adrian stammered, awkwardly beginning to raise one arm and then dropping it, his hand twitching as he was unsure of what to do. Jericho fixed that, giving the librarian a large, friendly grin and taking Adrian’s hand in a quick, firm shake before releasing him.
“Hello yourself!” He boomed, “My little sister-”
“I’m older than you.” Rhea reminded haughtily, “By six years, might I add.”
“Yeah but you’re a good sixteen inches shorter.”
“I am not.”
“At least thirteen.”
Rhea huffed, but she couldn’t dispute that. Adrian looked between them with reservations and Deirdre waved her hand.
“Oh pah, ignore them, they’re children. How are you, Mr. Calver? Jericho and I came by to see Rhea after that ordeal on Thursday.” She gave her daughter a side glance, “I told you to listen to my alarms. I set them for a reason.”
“I tried, Mom, but it was a blizzard out there.”
“That doesn’t give you any excuse to have not been in your containment cell.” Deirdre chastised, “I know you hate it, but it’s your reality.” Harsher, blunter than Deirdre would have ever spoken on the matter in the past, but her daughter was an adult and could take care of herself. Deirdre looked back at Adrian, “And it seems she managed to distract you into missing your window too. How have you been holding up?”
“Tired,” Adrian admitted, “But it wasn’t her fault- I wasn’t paying attention and I was trying to bring something out to my car before the full moon and I didn’t know about the snow. We had to go back to put my papers in my office. No serious injuries, at least.” He couldn’t imagine what would have happened if they’d managed to truly harm a student. They would have lost their jobs, at the very least, if there wasn’t a lawsuit involved.
“No serious injuries?” Rhea scoffed, “I still have scabs all up my mouth and tongue, I can’t believe that girl quilled me or whatever,”
Jericho raised his hand as if in class, “Since when can you get scabs in your mouth?” Rhea helpfully stuck her tongue out at him, rolling her eyes.
“Well you were trying to eat her.” Adrian reasoned, but Rhea shrugged him off.
“And I still have bruises from Haki throwing me into that cell. I bet you Marius is still angry we banged up his potions lab.” She glanced in the direction of the labs downstairs.
“Have you had any trouble from the press?” Jericho asked, leaning to the side and resting his elbow on Rhea’s head. She ducked away from him.
“Uh-” Adrian’s eyes followed their movements, unsure how to react to the siblings casual, subtle interactions. He certainly had little experience in that area. “A little bit. Angry letters, mostly, but the parents of students are more understanding- they’re nearly all supernatural themselves.”
“My wife was putting up a fuss herself.” Jericho let his arm fall, crossing them in thought. “Our daughter attends and all three of us are human. My sister here is the only one who got the magic genes, it seems.” He shrugged, “Natalie’ll calm down though. No one got hurt, Lunette wasn’t even involved in any of it. She was stuck in the Raven’s dorm.”
Deirdre shook her head, “She’s not going to be forgetting this anytime soon. You know she didn’t want Lunette to attend in the first place.”
“Well, I’m sure I can keep her at bay until Lunette graduates.”
“Why does she attend if she’s human?” Adrian couldn’t help but ask.
“Well- the integration is pretty new, as you probably know, the school didn’t accept humans back when Rhea and I were students.”
“There were a couple,” Rhea interjected, “They were exchange students, or they had older siblings attending.”
“Yeah, that’s how I got in. Rhea was my ticket in,” He reached over to try and ruffle Rhea’s hair, only be swatted away with a ‘Quit it!’. “Lunette heard all about the school from me and her. We attended, my mom did, her parents did. She wanted to as well, and she got a scholarship so…” He shrugged again, “I convinced, or maybe bribed, Natalie into it and here she is.”
“She’s skipped two grades.” Deirdre commented proudly, always one to brag about either of her grandchildren. Though the younger wasn’t quite as noteworthy, being only one year old- there was only so many people she could tell about his bodily functions.
“I think I’ve met her,” Adrian replied, thinking back.
“Probably, she spends most of her time studying. You’d like her, she’s a huge book person. Not much fictional, though.” As she spoke, Rhea’s eyes turned to the shelf Adrian was organizing. “How much damage did we leave in here?”
“A little. Or… a lot. Some bookshelves were knocked over, a couple books were smashed entirely.” He looked truly solemn about that fact. “I had a few aides help me pick up, though. I just have a couple shelves back there,” Adrian indicated with a nod toward the long desk that held the check out computer. “But I just need to reshelve and we’ll be back to normal.”
“You’re certainly younger than I am,” Deirdre replied, “I can hardly stock myself anymore, my back just can’t work like it used to, but I’m sure you can see that for yourself.”
Adrian blinked, immediately back tracking, “What- no- I didn’t-”
Deirdre laughed, “Oh Rhea, you certainly picked a cute one.”
“Mom!” Rhea exclaimed, her own face now matching Adrian’s in color. Deirdre disregarded them both, going on in spite of her daughter’s embarrassment.
“I’m excited to see where you and my daughter go-”
“We’re just friends!” Adrian insisted, tomato red and glancing over to see that Jericho was snickering at him, Rhea was equally mortified and Deirdre was simply pleased with herself.
“Don’t worry, dear, you’ll warm up to the idea soon enough.”
“You’re worse than Issy.” Rhea snapped at them, “And Ourani.” At that moment, Jericho lunged at his sister, both hands going to her waist and tickling her there. Instantly, Rhea gave an odd sort of restrained laugh, attempting to shove him away.
“Are we?” He insisted, “C’mon Rhea, you can’t compare me to Issy.” Not that he actually minded, he quite liked the man. “I’m much cooler, and handsomer.”
“Quit it!” Rhea managed to gasp and a moment later they were wrestling as Deirdre watched fondly. The older woman glanced over toward Adrian,
“That’s the only way he can find to get an edge over her,” She explained, “Rhea lets him, though.” The two siblings seemed to barely even notice them talking. “You should come over for dinner sometime, Adrian, I’d love the chance to get to know you.” Deirdre grinned, “After all, I anticipate seeing you a bit more often.”
“Oh you don’t need to defend yourself. It’s perfectly natural to like someone and date. How long have you been working here?”
Adrian eyed her as if she were a time bomb, glancing toward the laughing pair once before back at their mother. All of it was new to him. “About seven years now.”
“And how old are you?”
“So you got the job at twenty-one, hmm? You must have been a good student here, did you attend the school?”
“Yes- me and my sister did. I attended the university for English and became the library assistant three years in. Head librarian a couple years later, when my mentor retired. He knew me to be a good reader when I was in school, and trusted that I could take care of the place.”
“How refreshing, my daughter wouldn’t touch a book with a ten foot pole if she didn’t have to. Jericho was a little easier- not an avid reader, but I could convince him to read a couple novels from the shop.”
“So you run a bookstore? Rhea said you did.”
“Yes, when me and my husband separated I needed a source of income. I found this nice man who would allow me to live above the shop, an area he had been using for storage, and a small salary in exchange for work. It was minimum wage, but my living area was taken care of so it was a good situation, better than I could have hoped for. He was a good samaritan, I was sad to see him pass on when Rhea was ten. He left the store in our name, a blessing.”
“And now with Jericho and… Natalie, was it?”
“It does get a little crowded, if that’s what you mean.” She laughed once, “There are only three bedrooms. Me, my son, his wife, and their two children. Back when it was just us, Rhea and Jericho had their own rooms. Lunette and Frederick share, but he’s only a baby and Lunette is at school for the better part of the year, so it’s bearable. I enjoy being so close with my family.” Adrian only nodded, so Deirdre went on. “What about you, Rhea hasn’t told me much about your family.”
“I uh- just me and my grandparents.”
“But you have a sister?”
“Yes. We don’t get along very well, I haven’t seen her in years.”
Deirdre nodded, “Rhea has a sister too, you know.”
“She does?” Rhea certainly hadn’t mentioned a sister- he’d barely known she had a brother.
“Yes, they haven’t seen each other in decades either. Last I heard they got into fights regularly at school. Alexis stayed with her father when we separated, I think she blamed Rhea for the trouble. Jericho was born a couple months afterward, I never actually told Jace about him. What about your parents, what did they do?”
“My uh, father was a cop. My mom did profiling.”
“Really? Rhea was something similar, before she quit a few years ago. Not sure what specifically, she won’t talk about it- never would, but knowing her it was something stupidly dangerous.” Despite her words, Deirdre still watched her children fondly. “Anyway- we won’t keep you from your books. Rhea! Jericho! We promised Natalie we’d check on Lunette.”
Jericho looked up and Rhea managed to kick him in the crotch before standing up herself, a smug look on her face as she smoothed out her shirt. “Sorry to bother you, Adrian.” She replied, a grin on her face as she glanced at the man.
“No- no problem.”
“You’re such a pest,” Jericho complained good naturedly to his sister as he stood back up, stretching both legs as he winced with pain. “Fine then, let’s head out. Nice to meet you, Adrian. I hope to see you soon,” He winked as he spoke, before he was placing an arm around Deirdre’s shoulders and heading for the door. Rhea grimaced at him before following, throwing a wave behind her toward Adrian.
Adrian stared after them, before he shook himself and got back to work.